Troops Get Warm Thanksgiving Welcome At DFW Airport

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
Bud is the most veteran reporter at CBS 11 News with 42 years in m...
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DFW AIRPORT (CBSDFW.COM) - A special homecoming was held at DFW Airport on Thanksgiving Eve; service men and women coming home to the big airport for some Thanksgiving R&R.

Cheers of, “Whoooo–heroes!” and chants of, “USA, USA!” rocked the baggage arrival carousel at Terminal D.  A couple hundred well-wishers were on hand. Most didn’t have any loved ones arriving, but simply felt they had to be there.  “We Just came out to support,” explained Little Elm resident Sabrina Vallecillo.  “I mean, we couldn’t have Thanksgiving without the troops.”  Daughter Vivian, age five added, “I’m here for the Army men.” When asked why they  are important, she responded, “Because they have to save your life whenever they come.”

Calvin Graef was visiting from Kansas and he, too, felt compelled to attend, along with nearly a dozen family members. The reception choked him up; it was different when he came home years ago from Vietnam.   “We didn’t get this kind of welcome,” he said, adding, “It kind of takes my breath away… we have a wonderful military and we need to get behind them and support them.”

And from the looks on their faces, the 148 men and women flying in from Iraq and Afghanistan were emotionally moved, too.  Army Warrant Officer Shane Harman, stationed at Fort Hood, was welcomed by his family, including a tearful daughter.  “It’s amazing; every time a solider comes through here on R&R… it’s touching and an amazing thing and I don’t think you’d see that anywhere else.”

Sometimes the last minutes of waiting are the hardest; ask Katherine Sugito and her children.  She laughed, “Ah yes, they’re really excited, they’re really waiting for him,” she said of son Nicholas, ten months old, and daughter, Naomi, soon to turn five and looking forward to a birthday party at the Great Wolf Lodge.

But their wait would be a little longer.

It’s seemingly the military way: confusion and separation, even at an R&R homecoming.   But when the Sugitos finally reunited, the magic of homecoming washed over them.  Nanda Sugito, a sailor who served in both Kuwait and the Kandhar Province of Aftghanistan, gushed, “It’s awesome, it’s awesome. I feel I want to cry when I saw that, honestly, in my heart I feel, ‘Wow!’  There’s just no word I can say what you guys (waiting well-wishers) do for us.”

Another flight of service personnel arrives at DFW a little after 3pm Thanksgiving Day.  Anyone who is interested in welcoming the flight can get arrival information by dialing 972.574.0392 for a recorded message with the latest updates.

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